EVEN President Rodrigo Duterte is not spared the aggravation caused by the poor service of telecommunication carriers, leading him to warn he would open up the telco industry if the existing duopoly does not improve its services.
“Whenever I send a text message, I have to wait so long for a reply. I even fall asleep and the text will only arrive when I wake up in the morning. I’m trying to be patient about that,” Duterte told Davao City folk.
The President warned both PLDT-Smart Communications of the Salim Group of Indonesia and Globe Telecom of the Ayala family— the two principal telco players in the country— that he would encourage foreign investments to compete with them if they don’t improve.
“You have no competition. If you do not do it right, you wait. I’m going to China. I’ll open up everything for competition,” he said.
The PLDT and Globe groups had earlier acquired the telecommunications business of San Miguel Corp. for P70 billion, including SMC’s Vega Telecom Inc., New Century Telecoms Inc. and eTelco Inc., with PLDT and Globe getting 50 percent each.
The Philippine Competition Commission, however, asked the Court of Appeals to nullify the deal because the 700-MHz bandwidth of the SMC companies should have been returned to the government and not sold to the PLDT-Globe consortium.
Critics, including Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, have also questioned the conflict of interest of Informations and Communications Technology Secretary Rodolfo Salalima, who had once served as chief legal counsel and senior advisor of Globe Telecom and senior vice president for corporate and regulatory affairs and managing director of Ayala Corp.
Salalima had earlier proposed that the government established a state-owned telecommunications company to solve the notoriously slow internet connection in the country, said Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.
“The solution eyed by Secretary Rudy Salalima is for the government to either build its own telecommunications company. Second, for the government itself to remedy the lack of presence of cell sites or fiber optics and; third, bid out frequencies for a third player to make the competition more vibrant,” Andanar said.
The government had earlier claimed that its rules have been wrongly interpreted by PLDT and Globe, causing both telcos to refuse compliance.